Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

History is Being Made – Radical Left TD’s in Ireland Co-operate to drive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael out of a Dublin Government for the First Time Ever

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Every Dublin Government since the foundation of the Irish State in 1921 has been run by either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. In years to come, tell them you were part of history – On the streets for a Left Government : Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, 1.00pm, March 7 2020.

From Paul Murphy TD :

Today saw an important development in the fight for an alternative government, excluding Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. RISE and People Before Profit have come together with three other left-wing TDs, Joan Collins, Catherine Connolly and Thomas Pringle, to negotiate together for an alternative government to be formed. We have come up with a common political programme, which amongst many other things includes a rent freeze and rent controls to bring rents down, a return of the pension age to 65, pay equality for all public sector workers, an increase in the minimum wage to €15 and free, green and frequent public transport as part of a plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Paul Murphy TD, RISE, Dublin South-West

Many people have asked – how could this happen? Surely the numbers are not there for such a government? Establishment TDs and media commentators have trotted out the phrase that the first rule of politics is to know how to count! But politics is about much much more than counting who is in the Dáil – real change is always driven from below.

Remember the water charges? There was a massive majority of TDs in the Dáil who in reality supported the water charges. They were beaten and forced to abolish water charges by a mass movement of protest and non-payment. Similarly with Repeal and 12 weeks. Just a few years before the referendum, the socialist left was in a small minority in the Dáil in supporting the right to choose. The political establishment was forced to change by a mass movement of protest, activism and civil disobedience again.

If a popular programme for government made up of necessary reforms which would improve the lives of working class people and tackle the climate crisis is put together, major movements on the streets demanding this change is delivered can put pressure on even the establishment parties. We should demand that Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil or both steps aside and allows an alternative government to come to power.

If such a government did come to power, it is true that it would be very unlikely to last five years. In reality, it may not last beyond the next budget when Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would probably try to bring it down. However, even in that short time, it could propose very necessary legislation to improve people’s lives – like by returning the pension age to 65, increasing the minimum wage and implementing an immediate rent freeze. To drive these measures through the Dáil, people power would be needed to be mobilised to put pressure on the likes of Fianna Fáil to at least abstain and allow these measures to be implemented.

Sooner or later, it would be brought down by the right-wing parties. If that resulted in a new election polarised along left-right lines, that would be a good thing. It would pose the possibility of achieving a majority alternative government.

It would also allow the radical left to fight for a mandate for the far-reaching socialist change that would be necessary for us to enter a government – to win the argument that if we are to tackle the housing crisis, we need to fundamentally reject the reliance on the market and instead pursue a programme of nationalisation of the corporate landlords, together with a massive programme of public house building. Similarly, if we are to end the health crisis, we need to build a full National Health Service, which means putting the private health insurance industry out of business, and taking private hospitals and beds into the public system. If we are to avoid climate catastrophe, instead of an economy run for profit, we need democratic planning for the needs of our planet and people, which requires democratic public ownership of the big polluters.

These are times of massive political change worldwide. Bold initiatives, like that taken by the seven Left TDs, are needed to seize the momentum back from the right-wing parties. This is the time for the socialist left to popularise the idea of a left government with socialist policies and take steps to fight for it.

If we rely on just what happens inside the walls of Leinster House, we will not achieve what we need. The same was the case with water charges and Repeal. That’s why everybody who wants real change needs to get on the streets on Saturday 7 March at 1pm at Parnell Square – fight for real change, kick out both FF and FG!

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  1. Ireland
    “To all of them we say – Rule out coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael! – Sinn Féin should seek to lead an alternative minority government”

    Friday 28 February 2020, by John Meehan, Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy was elected to the Irish parliament in the general election of 8 February 2019. He stood as a member of RISE – Radical Internationalist Socialist Environmentalist which was part of the Solidarity-People Before Profit (SPBP) electoral coalition. [1]

    Murphy was elected to the 33rd Dáil (Parliament, since independence) as TD (Teachta Dála – member of parliament) for the Dublin South-West constituency. [2] John Meehan spoke to him in Dáil Éireann on 19 February 19 2020.

    Jim Monaghan

    Feb 28, 2020 at 5:32 pm

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